No. Really. Tell me Bruce isn’t Cass’ father. Come at me, Bro.
Bruce is by no means perfect. You want someone to say it out loud? You need someone to remind you that Bruce isn’t BatGod? You’ve got it. I’ll do it gladly and bring slides. But when Bruce is written right. When Bruce is written as a human being with depth and emotions, he is one of the best men the world has to offer.
He is the one who will come to a putupon young lady, who is at one of her lowest of lows, and give her a birthday present. One on the day she chose for herself, because it’s the day she adopted their family. The day she was reborn as the beautiful and courageous young lady he’s proud to have taken under his wing.
I like when I’m reminded of that Bruce.
And I like this scene more than words can express. It’s beautiful. It’s poignant. It makes me want to go hug my own dad.
Because being a father isn’t about bringing someone into this world based on genetics, or building them up with the purpose of feeding your own ego or furthering your own dreams. It’s about this. About support, loving them, and being there to give them what they need the most.
Happy birthday, Rena! I hope you have an awesome day and enjoy this drabble I wrote for you.
The music rose and fell in great swells, the throbbing bass line hitting Stiles like a punch in the gut. Under the black lights, painted bodies swayed and thrashed to the beat and they all looked very much alive. As he stepped into the loft with Scott, Stiles expected sweltering heat from too many bodies pushed together and the humidity of too much breathing in one enclosed space; but as it was, the air was actually a little cool. The undead gave off no heat to their surroundings. Stiles tightened his grip on the handle of his four-pack of beer, suddenly feeling very out of place.
“Are you sure I’m allowed to be here, Scott?” Stiles asked, leaning into his best friend.
Scott smiled at him confidently. “I’m sure it will be fine, Stiles. You’re my brother; everyone knows that.”
It didn’t stop Stiles from feeling uneasy as Scott led him down to the dance floor. Many of the attendees had foregone their makeup and contact lenses, leaving them pale skinned and white-eyed. Their necks and wrists were looped with chemiluminescent jewelry and in their hands they brandished branches of neon light; a legion of the dead, armed with glow sticks. Stiles cut a path through them, Scott close on his tail, and he tried not to shudder as cool, dry skin brushed against his bare arms. Stiles knew what they were, had accepted it when his best friend returned as one of them, but the lack of sweat and warmth was uncanny.
When they reached the DJ’s table, Stiles set his four-pack on the floor next to one of the legs, taking one drink for himself and sipping it quietly as he looked around. He recognized a few faces out of the crowd. Erica Reyes, Vernon Boyd, and Isaac Lahey from their school danced together in a trio in the middle of the floor, and near one of the walls Ethan was painting Danny’s chest with phosphorescent dye at a station that had been set up. Danny met Stiles’ eyes and nodded once with approval; two of the only living in a sea of the dead. Stiles lifted his beer toward Danny in a mock toast, making the other teen roll his eyes.
Scott followed Stiles’ line of sight and waved enthusiastically before slapping Stiles on the arm. “Dude, let’s go get painted!” he said, and before Stiles could protest, Scott was wrapping his fingers around Stiles’ wrist and tugging him along.
“Having a good time, Stilinski?” Danny asked with an amused smirk when they arrived at the station.
Stiles leaned on one foot, grimacing a little as he felt newspaper sticking to the sole of his shoe. “Sure! Gotta say though: this party is pretty dead.”
Ethan snorted and the corners of Danny’s mouth fluttered with a suppressed laugh. “You could say that.”
Turning to Ethan, Stiles asked, “So whose place is this anyway? We’re not just crashing some random guy’s apartment, are we?”
“Nah, Derek Hale lives here,” said Ethan. “He should be around somewhere.”
“Huh. Well imagine that.” Stiles’ gut twisted with nerves and he pulled back on his drink. Scott slapped his arm again, causing Stiles to dribble beer down his front. “Dude, what the hell?” he griped.
“Sorry!” said Scott. “Will you help me paint my other arm?” Scott had already painted two green rings around his left bicep and he held the paintbrush out to Stiles imploringly.
Stiles set his beer down on the end table with the jars of paint and said, “Yeah. Sure, buddy,” taking the brush from Scott’s hand. He painted clumsy swirls down Scott’s right arm and his best friend grinned at him encouragingly, telling him it looked great.
Scott looked around as Stiles continued painting, then frowned and turned to Ethan. “Is it just me, or are people acting kind of… strange?”
“It’s sheep’s brains.”
It was a good thing Stiles had chosen that one moment to take the paintbrush off of Scott’s arm because he jumped violently as Erica’s voice came from right behind them.
“Holy god, woman!” Stiles clutched his chest with his free hand and whipped around to face her. “Some of us still have a pulse here!” Bracketed by Boyd and Isaac, Erica beamed as she held up a Tupperware container of pinkish-grey blobs. The smell of meat and blood hit Stiles and he nearly gagged. “What the hell is that?”
“Like I said,” Erica told him, “sheep’s brains.”
“Is that okay?” asked Scott. “I mean, we’re not supposed to eat brains anymore.”
“Human brains,” said Boyd. “These were never in any humans.”
“It’s all legal,” Isaac added.
“So do you want some?” asked Erica.
Scott started to open his mouth when Stiles slung an arm around his shoulders and said, “Can’t. He’s my designated driver.” Stiles dropped his paintbrush on the end table and picked up his beer, giving it a little shake before taking a sip for emphasis.
“Yeah.” Scott nodded his head emphatically. “I promised Stiles I’d drive tonight so that he could drink.”
“Your loss.” Erica shrugged before turning to Ethan. “How about you?”
“Sure, I’ll give it a try.” Ethan reached into the container and picked up a pile of grey mush, bringing it to his lips. As he chewed and swallowed, Stiles’ stomach lurched.
Scott’s hand came down on Stiles’ shoulder. “Hey, man, are you okay? You don’t look so good.”
“Yeah,” said Stiles. “I just need to find the bathroom.” He excused himself and slipped away, inching along the walls until he reached the spiraling staircase by the stretch of windows. Stiles climbed the stairs until he was nearly at the top, taking a seat on the steps. He looked out below, watching all of the people dancing in ecstasy, and it hit Stiles for the first time that this was their lives. All of them, even Scott, had killed and eaten people for survival. Stiles closed his eyes and saw Scott in the woods, dead-eyed and covered in dirt as flesh dripped from his mouth. In front of him, Liam Dunbar laid face down, the back of his head cracked open like a walnut to expose brain matter. Stiles’ knuckles turned white around the neck of his bottle.
Cold fingertips touched the back of Stiles’ hand. “You’ll break it,” said a soft voice.
Stiles sucked in a sharp breath as his eyes opened and he found Derek Hale sitting next to him. “How long have you been there?”
“Not long,” said Derek. He watched Stiles with those ghostly eyes. “Are you alright?”
Stiles didn’t answer. “You haven’t had any, have you?”
Derek’s eyes flickered down to the floor, where others like Erica were passing around containers of sheep’s brains. “No.”
“Good,” said Stiles. “Don’t.”
“Okay.” They sat in silence, Stiles sipping from his beer every so often, and let the music wash over them. After a while, Derek said, “The sheep’s brains… they do for us what that does for you.” Derek gestured at the beer in Stiles’ hand.
Stiles pressed his lips together, gaze falling to the floor. “It’s not even that great anyway.”
“Then why did you bring it?” Derek asked.
Stiles shrugged. “That’s what you do when you go to parties, right? You drink. But I guess that’s just what you do at parties for the living.”
“Ethan’s friend is here,” said Derek. “He’s living and he seems to be getting along fine.”
“Yeah, but he’s a party veteran. He was made for socializing.”
“And what about you? Haven’t you gone to parties before? You’re a teenager.”
Stiles bit his lip. “After Scott died… I didn’t have much reason to party.” Derek nodded in understanding. “So why this? Why throw a party you’re not even joining in?”
“To remind them that it’s good to be alive.”
“Great,” said Stiles. “So I really am crashing a party for the dead.”
“The dead aren’t the only ones who need that reminder,” said Derek.
Stiles looked up at him, startled. “And what about you?” Derek frowned, cocking his head. “Don’t you need that reminder too?”
Derek’s lips parted in surprise and he stared at Stiles with this torn open expression. Derek Hale was a brick wall, a pillar of strength and a force of nature, but in that moment he was more human, more vulnerable, than anything Stiles had ever seen. Derek gently took the beer from Stiles’ hand and set it on the steps next to them, and then he leaned in to kiss Stiles sweetly on the lips. Stiles’ eyes slipped closed and he made a soft sound in his throat, moving his mouth slowly against Derek’s. The kiss was little more than chaste and Derek’s thumb running along Stiles’ jaw was chilled to the touch, but it made Stiles’ head spin more than the low levels of alcohol rushing through his veins.
When they pulled apart, Derek said, “No. Not anymore.”